Tunnel-vision editorial didn't help

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By TJ Taub

Dear Editor,

Your Jan. 25 editorial was quite an indictment of teachers, claiming teacher pay keeps going up but student performance continues to drop and, furthermore, that an excessive number of teacher in-service training days plays a significant role in that problem. Let’s explore that position.The state of New Mexico establishes the amount of time students must be in school each year, calculated in minutes, not days. Additional minutes are scheduled to accommodate weather-related delays and cancellations. Contrary to your claim, in-service days do not count as student contact minutes.Furthermore, the State of New Mexico mandates a minimum number of in-service teacher training days. The Los Alamos Public School (LAPS) system has seven specifically scheduled (they don’t just “pop up”) in-service days per year, completing five days in August before classes start, and two days during the school year. Most teachers love their work and it isn’t a simple thing for them, either, to accommodate lesson plans around days they can’t be in the classroom. But training is important because the objective of professional development – as in any profession – is to help people become more effective, in this case leading to more successful students.Regarding teacher pay, consider LANL’s average salary for 2007 of $93,166 compared to LAPS’ average teacher salary of $51,286. Even factoring in a 10-month contract, I’d hardly infer that teaching is an over-paid profession. In fact, this discrepancy is a sad illustration of our priorities and how poorly we compensate the people who play such a critical role in framing and molding so much of our children’s foundation for their (and our) future.The lack of student contact hours during teacher in-service days has nothing to do with how well our children are performing relative to the rest of the world. What’s this really about? It feels like it’s more about babysitting than student achievement. It sounds like some parents may resent having their schedules disrupted because schools aren’t available to manage their kids. Teaching children – helping them feel successful as early as possible (nothing succeeds like success), encouraging a desire for learning and following their passions – is one of the most important elements of a successful society. Yet we continue to scrimp on teacher pay and funding for our schools, then add insult to injury with uninformed, tunnel-vision editorials. Shades of Rosanna-Rosanna Danna, missing the “Nevermind!”TJ TaubLos Alamos